The former Chairman of Nigeria’s Electoral body, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega has solicited for autonomy in the appointment of the Commission’s chairman to avoid manipulation by the political class.
Professor Jega said autonomy in the appointment of the chairman through the National Judicial Councils as prescribed by the Justice Uwais reform, would give independence to the electoral body and ensure that people own the electoral democracy system.
He was speaking at a lecture organised by the Institute for Democratic Research and Development of the Bayero University in Kano State.
“The current arrangement where the president either through recommendation or directly appoint the Chairman does not augur well as the President only subject the candidate to mere scrutiny by the council of heads of state,” Professor Jega stated.
He acknowledged that the financial autonomy granted to the INEC was substantially the brain behind the success of the 2015 general elections.
The autonomy, made possible through the same Justice Uwais Reform allows INEC’S budgetary allocation to be domicile with Central Bank of Nigeria without resort to the presidency.
“It eliminated that concept of who pays the piper dictates the tune. It gave us the opportunity to own the electoral process and programs, especially the acquisition of electronic devices for the election,” Professor Jega explained.
He advised Nigerians to consistently make effort towards owning the electoral democracy system.
Professor Jega was INEC Chairman from 2011 to 2015.
The Guest Speaker, Professor Richard Joseph of the Northern American University urged Nigerians to make conscious effort to own the electoral democracy system in Nigeria by ensuring active participation, transparency and accountability in elections.
He said a well conducted election brings integrity to a Nation and in order to achieve that, electorates need to actively participate in voters’ registration and voting during elections.
“The electorates must mobilise to ensure transparency, accountability in order to make the election credible. Electoral Democracy, which allow people to make a choice must be seen to be transparent and accountable,” Professor Richard stressed.
Strengthening Electoral Institutions
The Professor also called for the strengthening of electoral institutions in Nigeria so that they could be ahead of the politicians to thwart attempt to manipulate the system in their favour, as well as putting in place systemic structures to discipline the political class where and when they are found wanting.
“When all these among others are put in place, the electorates can claim their democracy,” he emphasised.
He agreed that technological innovation via the use of the card reader, voters education and social democracy mobilisation were part of the instruments that transformed INEC between 2011 to 2015.
The lecture has the theme “electoral Democracy and Integrity in Nigeria, Reflective on INEC’s Transformation 2011 to 2015.”